Last Sunday, my pastor preached on Mark 2. I've been thinking about it all week, and since Sunday is here again, I'm thinking about worship again, and then wondering What Would Jesus Do Today?
Most of you know we go to a lot of churches here in the Durango area. We've found some wonderful friends at New Hope, The Methodist Church, the Baptist Congregation, Our Four Square Friends, and the College gathering called The Matthews House. If it was possible, I'd worship with all of them every Sunday, but until technology gives me the option, I'll have to settle with one place at one time.
We've landed most consistently with the group at the college. I play a little bass for worship, and have the chance to teach every now and then. It's a great fit for ministering to students, and having the chance to be involved. In any event….
The story in Mark 2 I've been thinking about is important for all believers. No matter what church you go to, there is a tendency to make the church the primary focus. It's not a slam against the church, but the members usually protect each other from the outside world, they tend to group up and think the same, and most of the time they have a similar background as sociologists tell us of our natural tendencies to want to relate to people like ourselves. Worship is no different, usually.
But Jesus really threw all that into a huge mixing pot, and made something of people that were willing to invite people into the fold that looked a little different. The story happened in v.13 of Mark 2 when Jesus was eating at the house of a known tax collector. He was sitting around hob nobbing with people repulsive to the church leaders of the day. They were thieves, sexual deviants, and people who were living near the underbelly of humanity.
13Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.
15While Jesus was having dinner at Levi's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the "sinners" and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: "Why does he eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"
17On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
I've been thinking again.
How many of us really are willing to look at the humanity in it's face and do something about it? Are we really willing to lay down our pride of religious piety, and able to be strong to the core of our belief system to allow for the mingling with these kind of people?
I don't think I can be as strong as God, even Jesus struggled with that, and He was God. (Phil. 2) But I think we need a few simple points to help us know this faith is more about giving hope, than it is about building strong buildings, healthy congregations, or even the impenetrable 'good reputation.' In order to do this, I think we have to…
1.) Have a strong Core.
I think one of the biggest fears believers have concerning 'the others' of humanity is, we just don't know what we believe. Sure we have the basics down, God, Jesus, Christmas, Easter; but really? Do we really understand how it all works together?
I've been working on helping teenagers and college students ask that question for over 15 years now, and I believe we're making headway. They certainly all have the information, and some have even watched their own core grow into something they can count on. They're not afraid! They know they can go to the world with confidence, and endure the spiritual attacks of people who are belligerent to the faith.
2.) Have Compassion.
Let's be honest, most of us have more judgement in our heart than compassion and grace. Sure there are times when we have to stand up for right and wrong, but in reality pagans act like pagans….BECAUSE THEY'RE PAGANS!
We need to have a little more compassion for people. As anyone searches for the heart of God, until they find it; they're not going to act like God. (Romans 3:23). We're called to model what Jesus did in going to those without answers. We need to have Compassion. We need to model Grace. We can let judgement happen when God calls us to judgement. (Romans 12:9)
3.) Have willingness to change.
We've got to have a willingness to change our ideas. The very tag line of this blog "Re-Imagining the Christian Worldview" has certainly brought as much criticism as it has praise. The very idea that we can re-think the way we are doing things, not simply for the sake of change; but rather, for the chance to think we might need to keep an accountability of where we are is PRICELESS!
If we keep doing the same old things without seeing any different results, maybe it's time to ask our own heart, "Is it me?" Nobody ever wants to think they've worked through the faith in a wrong way. It's humbling to believe you're doing what God has called you to do, only to find out He wanted something different all along.
I believe we have to have the willingness to change our traditional views of faith if we're not reaching people in REAL LIFE to make a difference for the gospel. A few questions you might ask to keep you in check…
a. How many people know more about God because of your life today?
b. How many people are experiencing freedom because of your 'religious living?'
c. Hoe many people are showing a dramatic shift in their own paradigm, as God's word infects their worldview?
If you can't see any change? Maybe it's time for you to change?
Jesus sitting with tax collectors and sinners was as revolutionary for His time, as it would be today.
Imagine your pastor sitting in the dark seedy hallways of the prostitutes in your city.
Imagine what it would look like if your pastor sat at the bar to talk to alcoholics about the freedom they might experience through God's grace.
Imagine what it would be like if your pastor went to the political part you most disagree with, and sat with them to share God's love.
What would you think of him?
Maybe we need to back up a bit and truly ask, What would Jesus Do Today to bring the Good News of Salvation to our broken world?